The acquisition, pending government approvals, is expected to be completed later this year. Terms between the two privately held companies were not disclosed.
Just as Nielsen is able to measure marketing activity on TV and personal computers, Telephia will allow it to measure mobile media, fitting into Nielsen's strategy of measuring consumer behavior and media use across all platforms "anytime, anywhere," said Jim O'Hara, president Media Products, Nielsen Co.
He added that the once-staid telecom companies are now evolving into media companies in their own right as they offer entertainment services via the mobile phone and services such as Verizon's FiOS and AT&T's U-verse.
Telephia, based in San Francisco, has three main products. One measures market share among telecom companies; a second business uses surveys and measures how consumers are spending their money on mobile phone related purchases. One panel, for example, has 35,000 telecom customers who allow Telephia to examine their phone bills. Telephia uses the information to gather revenue information, and see who is buying what kinds of mobile content such as ringtones or wallpapers or using mobile data. Other panels might consider, for example, consumer attitudes about all aspects of their mobile phones from devices to rate plans.
A third business involves trucks that go around the nation and measure cellphone quality. All major wireless companies with ad claims of having the best network (Verizon) or fewest dropped calls (AT&T) use this survey on which to base those claims. "They publicize different elements," said Sid Gorham, president and CEO of Telephia. "Quality is not a monolithic thing," he said.
Mr. Gorham said Telephia will be part of the integration at Nielsen, although there is "not a clear picture yet" of how that will take place, even whether the Telephia name will continue.